Monday, October 25, 2010

A healthy dialogue with student leaders

Last week, I had the privilege of joining the Community Government Association (CGA) Senate meeting where I fielded questions from students ranging from curriculum concerns to off-campus issues and tuition inquiries. The Q&A lasted nearly 45 minutes. I was very impressed with the students’ openness to ask me tough questions that show their genuine concern for maintaining a high quality of education and life here at Bloomsburg University.

The invitation to the student Senate meeting also gave me a chance to hear directly from the student leaders, who in turn serve as liaisons for the student body. We covered a lot of ground, cleared up a few misconceptions and laid the foundation for what I hope are regular open discussions between the students and me.

In addition to many key issues, such as off-campus housing and student parking, I was glad to hear one important topic that was brought up. It allowed me to set the record straight on a misconception that filters throughout the community. One student asked how the recent building renovations and expansion translated into tuition increases, which BU has seen over the past two years set by PASSHE. His belief, as many hold, is the university had to raise tuition to cover the cost of construction.

In reality, Bloomsburg University does not control tuition rates. They are annually established by PASSHE in the summer for the following academic year across the entire State System. In addition, the money used to fund construction projects comes from a capital budget, which is completely separate from the operational budget that impacts tuition. I was also able to inform the students that these building projects not only help boost the local economy by providing work for construction companies but ensure BU continues to offer the best and most up-to-date facilities for students to live and learn in. This productive exchange was one of several I enjoyed last week, which I also believe the students appreciated.

Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t allow me to participate in these types of student forums as often as I wish I could, however, I enjoy hearing your comments and concerns. Feel free to share your thoughts with me while I’m walking on campus, attending a student event or through e-mail and my blog. The students who serve as representatives and senators on the CGA Senate are a communication link to me, too. And from what I saw last week, this Senate group is more than capable and motivated to serve the student body well and make a difference – not just for them — but for the classes of students who will be follow in the coming years.

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